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Malcolm Knowles

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As one of the most profound educational theorists, Malcolm Knowles provided extensive insight into the process of adult education and the techniques that can be used to promote the greatest level of success for these students. Malcolm KnowlesAs the leading promoted of the concept of andragogy, Knowles argued that the educational techniques used for young children—called pedagogy—is not applicable to adults. Because they rely on a different set of characteristics for their education, teaching strategies and approaches need to be subsequently altered.

According to Knowles, there are six elements to be incorporated when working with adult learners. First, they need to know the reason why they are learning. Without having some sort of context, they are not going to respond to the educational process well. Second, experience should be the basis for learning activities. Because they have such extensive experience to draw upon, this should be incorporated into the learning process. Third, adults need to have a sense of ownership for their education; they need to be involved in the planning and progress of their own education. Fourth, the material learned should be relevant; if adults do not see a practical purpose for the material, they will not find success. Fifth, learning should be problem-centered. When adults see learning as something that will help them solve a specific problem or challenge, they are more likely to find success. Finally, Knowles argued that adults need internal motivation. A teacher can challenge an adult student all they want; if the student does not want to learn as a result of their own self-motivation, they will not find success. Using these six principles will result in the creation and implementation of learning strategies that will be most beneficial for adult learners and their unique needs and approach to the classroom environment.

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